Despite the typical recovery time for a COVID-19 infection lasting only a few weeks, a growing number of coronavirus patients are reporting chronic symptoms that linger for months after their diagnoses, despite no longer testing positive for the disease, with many of them unable to resume their normal lives due to the debilitating effects of their condition, now being called “Long-COVID”.

Long-COVID appears to affect between 10 and 20 percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19, who report experiencing symptoms of their illness for longer than a month, and 2.3 percent—or 1 in 44—reporting lingering effects that last for longer than 3 months. There’s no single set of symptoms shared by long-term COVID sufferers; two patients with the same condition could very well exhibit entirely different symptoms, making Long-COVID a difficult condition to approach. However, the most common symptom is a crippling fatigue, sapping the stamina of previously energetic individuals, leaving many unable to mount a flight of stairs, or walk any appreciable distance.

Other symptoms reported by “long-haulers”, as they have come to call themselves, include breathlessness, a persistent cough, joint pain, muscle aches, hearing and eyesight problems, headaches, loss of smell and taste, and damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys and digestive tract. Low-grade fever and cognitive dysfunction, described as “brain fog” by some patients, are also being reported, as well as hair loss and teeth loss. Mood disorder effects are also being reported, with a recent study having found that 20 percent of COVID-19 patients were recorded as having a first time diagnosis of anxiety, depression or insomnia in the three months following testing positive for the disease, roughly double the rate seen in other groups of patients in the same period.

Some of the chronic fatigue effects may be due to tissue scarring caused by the previous infection. “Unfortunately, sometimes the scar never goes away,” says Ali Gholamrezanezhad, a clinical radiologist at the University of Southern California. Gholamrezanezhad is leading a research team that is using computerized tomography (CT) scans to track the progress of previously-hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and found that more than one-third of the 33 individuals they were tracking had tissue damage in their lungs that have left visible scars. Although Gholamrezanezhad estimates that this effect might only affect about 10 percent of coronavirus patients overall—a number in line with at least one other study tracking the phenomenon of Long-COVID—the lungs aren’t the only organs attacked by SARS-CoV-2, implying that similar long-term scaring could occur in the intestines, heart, or even in the nervous system or brain.

Even if the percentage of patients affected is as low as 10 percent, nearly 64 million people globally have been infected with the coronavirus, meaning that hundreds of thousands—possibly millions—of individuals could potentially be suffering from Long-COVID, a legacy of the coronavirus that could very well last long after the pandemic has ended, affecting not only the individuals suffering from the condition, but also the economic and social systems supporting them.

An international patient-led movement called Patient-led Research for COVID-19 is gaining traction; initially starting with a survey aimed at collecting data on COVID-19 to try to understand their own recovery experiences, researchers that are part of the grassroots organization have launched their own formal studies on the phenomenon of Long-COVID.

The question remains as to whether or not sufferers of Long-COVID will eventually recover from their condition; although it has been a full year since the December 1, 2019 identification of COVID-19’s patient zero in Wuhan, China, not enough time has passed to reveal what the long-term effects of contracting COVID-19 might be. In the meantime, efforts to stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus may prevent untold numbers of individuals from finding out what such a future might hold for them.

6 Comments

  1. 1. The answer to the question, “Who is the Patient Zero for COVID-19” may turn out to be a moving target. I saw one press report that gave the name of a Chinese citizen in China who reportedly was hospitalized with COVID-19 in China in September 2019. So we may have to wait quite a while to see what the Chinese government or the WHO ultimately finds. 2. The following news article has a recommendation that people who have already fallen ill with COVID-19 should still be considered eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine:

    https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/should-people-who-recovered-covid-get-vaccinated-n1249766

  2. In the December 5-11, 2020, issue of The Economist magazine, they report that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be used to vaccinate people in the UK starting on Monday, December 7th. Link:

    https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2020/12/05/britain-becomes-the-first-country-to-license-a-fully-tested-covid-19-vaccine

    Further on in that same article, it states that “there are reasons to think that MRNA vaccines might actually be safer than some other kinds.” For example, MRNA cannot revert to a more dangerous form of the original virus. In addition, MRNA is a natural component of living cells, which make and destroy it continuously. “Its turnover rate is measured in days. So, once the MRNA from the vaccine has done its job it is quickly broken down. Yet misinformation is already being spread. One particularly pernicious falsehood is that the MRNA in the vaccine will alter a recipient’s DNA. This is about as likely as Isaac Newton’s apple falling upwards. RNA and DNA are different, and mammalian cells have no molecular mechanism for transcribing the former into the latter.”

  3. LOTS of data from poor nations that IVERMECTIN works as prevention and treatment for CV19… however, you will notice such results are systematically removed. Perhaps corporate interests fear the People might decline to take an experimental vaccine, rushed in record time through “testing” and manufactured by corporations who will have no liability IF there are any complications or adverse impacts. What could possibly go wrong 🙂

    1. Thanks for the tip: a quick search for Ivermectin turned up a lot of news and study papers on possible COVID-19 use (if someone’s trying to suppress the information, they’re doing an exceedingly bad job of it).

      There is the caveat that these are very small studies–the largest one I’ve seen only involved 400 subjects–and much larger trials (25 to 100 times larger) would be required to determine if the current results are viable and not just good luck, or if the drug is even safe for broad use on COVID patients.

      You also need to bear in mind that a prophylactic is never a viable substitute for an inoculation: even if Ivermectin does prove to be effective at preventing COVID-19 infections, it would have to be consumed by the public on a constant basis (an unsafe prospect due to the drug’s neurotoxic effects), whereas a vaccine provides the body with the means to fight the virus on its own–a one-and-done deal (or two, in the case of many of the new vaccines, barring the potential need for periodic boosters every few years), instead of a the steady cash-cow the newfound dependency Ivermectin would have provided Big Pharma.

      I’ve been doing some light digging in regards to the streamlined development processes invented for the new SARS-CoV-2 vaccines being produced, and from what I can tell the actual testing process itself hasn’t been skimped on at all, with clinical trial sizes and phase durations remaining the same. The corners that have been cut appear to largely have been from the red tape involving funding procurement, delays caused by corporate/marketing decisions, cancellations, waiting for approval for the trials themselves–basically, the brunt of factors such as those were bypassed due to the immediacy of the situation. With the sudden lack of the luxury of time, it’s been discovered that these years-long processes never actually needed to be artificially drawn out to begin with.

      This is also the first time the mRNA process has been used to develop large-scale vaccines, a targeted technique that allows researchers to isolate and modify targeted portions of the genetic code involved that takes mere days, as opposed to the months-to-years-long process of isolating dumbed-down strains of the targeted virus that are suitable enough for use in a vaccine. Basically, Moderna had a vaccine ready to roll by late February, the only reason it’s taken so long to make it available is the lengthy testing process.

      https://globalnews.ca/news/7492076/moderna-coronavirus-vaccine-technology-how-it-works/

      Here’s the article that got me to start looking into what the process actually entails:

      https://theconversation.com/less-than-a-year-to-develop-a-covid-vaccine-heres-why-you-shouldnt-be-alarmed-150414

      Pharmaceutical companies are well aware of the growing public distrust against them and their products; these optics hurt their bottom line, and they know all eyes are on them at this point in history–any screwup on their part would give the anti-vax community ample ammunition to further their cause. Despite public perception, this scrutiny is causing the companies to be even more careful with this endeavour: AstraZeneca even ordered an extra phase-3 trial after a factory screwup produced unexpected positive results in test volunteers.

      https://www.unknowncountry.com/headline-news/pharmaceutical-factory-accidentally-produces-lemonade-lower-doses-of-astrazeneca-vaccine-may-increase-effectiveness/

  4. From the website “theconversation” .com, referring to the above article on “less than a year to develop a” COVID-19 vaccine, please keep in mind the recent explanation of Houston-based academic physician Peter Hotez, MD: Today’s COVID-19 vaccine has not been in development for months, it has been in development for 17 years, since the world’s first cases of SARS. (SARS was the world’s first coronavirus infection.)

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